Collingwood Notables Database
Early settler, magistrate, public servant
Simpson arrived in Van Diemen’s Land from England in 1825. He held various appointments there but eventually decided that joining the Port Phillip Association offered better prospects and sailed for Melbourne in 1836. He initially held pastoral leases near Werribee but with his abilities was soon appointed a magistrate and in 1840 a police magistrate. He was to hold a series of official positions in the ensuing years.
He lived at Yarra Grange, a riverside property, in the 1840s, to the east of Georgiana McCrae’s Mayfield. The route to these semi-rural properties was muddy and potholed. Simpson organised for a road and path to be formed along the frontage of Mayfield, Smith’s Paddock and Yarra Grange. It continued to be referred to as Simpson’s Road long after its official name became Victoria Street. He already knew the McCraes as he had been their first landlord as the owner of Argyle Cottage in Melbourne.
Simpson was a close friend of John Batman and they sailed together to Port Phillip. Batman’s daughter Maria and her husband Robert Fennell lived and farmed at Yarra Grange in the 1850s.
As well as his official appointments, Simpson was involved in the cultural life of Melbourne in roles such as trustee of St Peter’s Church and president of the Mechanics’ Institute. He was vice-president of the Savings Bank of Port Phillip and for many years he was a director of the Bank of Australasia, which in his honour closed early on the day of his funeral. An honest man of natural authority, he was described by Edmund Finn as ‘the best-liked man in the province’.
|Date of Marriage
|Status of Building
|17 April 1857
|Fawkner (removed from Old Melbourne Cemetery)
The Argus; The Age; Billis, Pastoral pioneers of Port Phillip.
ADB James Simpson